from away
March 17, 2010, 4:44 am
Filed under: nomadisms

Today I went to a small town, north. I wrote longhand notes about what was going on around me, it was so good, a strange paid vacation. Listened to conversations, observed people living slowed down lives.

The guy who worked at the bus station also works at the movie theatre and knew exactly how many people bought tickets for the show last night (17) and talked about playing crib with his coworker because it was so slow. He remembered me from the morning when I showed up and asked how long it took me to get where I was going.

My first impression was a brief fear the town had no sidewalks and that I would have to trek alongside highways in the ditch. This turned out to be only five minutes and soon I’d hit a bungalow paradise with toys in front yards and seniors compounds flanked by short buses matching the trim on the downsized apartments. Land of the Legion. You could rent the Legion for a wedding for $250, that seems like a fairly good deal. Along my walk most of the other pedestrians were white haired women, some with groceries, others with walkers, testing out the warm. The RCMP were raiding a house with boarded windows and had three young men outside but everyone just carried on so it seemed the neighborhood was safe enough.

The girl who served me dinner was all of sixteen but perfect at her job. Warm, polite, water filled on cue. No charge for gravy and appreciation for a good tip. The best service in… years. While I was eating two nuns came in and two other elderly ladies invited them to join them, seemingly as strangers. The whole restaurant felt suprisingly communal and warm, even for someone dining alone for an hour. Across, a very young man had dinner with a relative, maybe his seven year old son, the kid was dressed in fleecy blue camo suit, two pieces of tough-looking fuzz that someone had painstakingly sewn.

The town is famous for hockey players, mostly, kids who make it to the show. They have so many they appear to avoid putting up billboards anymore. It’s also a rare, open racial blending point. The kids are mixed and the friends the kids have are visibly mixed, get into a conversation and almost everyone in the area has a different colored grandparent and multi-hued cousins. It’s funny how non-apparent racialization is until visiting a place where, for whatever reason, it exists less.

Coffee at Tim Hortons, I found myself surrounded by young men, high school aged, after class with friends. Talking like sixteen year old guys do, sort-of-stilted repeated jokes, sometimes mentions of girls, self conscious. They already had that small town swagger, powerful shoulders. I had forgotten what guys that age sound like, the ones removed from rap-script bravado and well trained proficiency. Hearing it led to insights about being that age, in a town where people go hang out at fast food joints after school with friends before heading to part time jobs, for lack of other options.

I am a small town pastorialist.

Verified google street view remains notoriously unreliable. Which sort of makes the adventure aspect still exciting.

Recognition, again, today, that a new goal is to work with people not paper.

The air outside right now is perfect, rare for these parts. Moist, warmed up, still. Spring, maybe.


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